What's an Air Conditioning Dry Charge?

April 01, 2015

Over the past 10 years, both the U.S. and Canadian governments have directed that all manufacturers of air conditioning equipment phase out production of the refrigerant R-22 (Freon) or Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). These refrigerants have been standardly used in air conditioners and heat pumps for the last several decades. The recommended phase-out mandates are suppose to have the HVAC industry shift to a more earth friendly refrigerant with a technical code R410A. R410A has been shown to be safer for the environment.

In late 2010 the majority of air conditioning manufacturers began manufacturing Air Conditioning and Heat Pump units, without adding refrigerant at the factory. These units are more commonly called “dry charged units”. The units can legally be sold and installed allowing the HVAC contractor to charge the unit in the field with R22. R22 is still legal for AC repair or service a while longer. The purpose of these Dry Charged Units is to give the greater Columbus area a more simple and relatively inexpensive replacement option for central air conditioners and heat pumps. However, these units also dodge the spirit of the mandates, which was to help the environment by introducing more environment friendly solutions.

Columbus homeowners should know that these Dry Charged Units are approved in the U.S. and Canada. Because of some key ambiguities in the written policies, the entire outdoor unit is technically considered a replacement “part”. Today, condensers or heat pumps intended for use in a replacement R-22 system are often referred to as “Dry Charge” or “Nitrogen Charged” systems. Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about this recent A/C Dry Charge trend.

Does it make sense to buy a Dry Charge Air Conditioning Unit?

Well, it really depends on a number of things. The number one thing to do is understand what types of HVAC equipment the heating and air conditioning industry can offer and seek solutions to address your personal comfort, efficiency and lifestyle needs. Take time to understand the benefits and difference between a dry charge unit and new air conditioning products with R-410A refrigerant.

Why would I buy a R-410A refrigerant system?

Current R-410A systems offer benefits to Columbus homeowners that Dry Charge units do not. A sample of the benefits include:

  • Greater energy efficiency for comfort at a cost savings
  • Modern technology to reduce humidity
  • Current production refrigerant solutions allowing longer life and extended availability of refrigerant
  • Longer warranty periods for even greater peace of mind
  • Quieter operation for a more peaceful indoor environment
  • Eco friendly refrigerant that reduces the carbon imprint that negatively impacts our environment
  • Matched coil solutions for increased reliability and guaranteed cooling and heating performance

Are Dry Change Air Conditioning Unit legal to install?

Definitely. There are no Federal laws or legal restriction on the installation of R-22 or Dry Charge Equipment, as long as it is as a repair for an existing system.

Does a warranty come with a Dry Charge Unit?

Major manufacturers have a standard 5-year parts warranty on dry charge units. While this affords industry standard protection on the components it does not provide protection against R-22 refrigerant prices, which are expected to increase significantly.

How expensive will R-22 get in the next few years?

It is likely that as a result of supply and demand, R-22 refrigerant will become more expensive. As the phase out process of R22 continues, new R-22 refrigerant production will slowly be reduced, with full elimination of its production in 2020. Until then, indications are that there will likely be sufficient supply to meet the current demand.

If you have more questions about refrigerant, we encourage you to contact Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning for clarification.

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